Authorities in Azerbaijan assert that playing host to the European Games marks the emergence of a self-assured nation capable of staging a major international sporting event. But some residents of the host city, the Azerbaijani capital Baku, are reserving judgment. To them, the accuracy of such statements will be determined by developments after the closing ceremonies on June 28.
One year ago, Georgia signed an historic free-trade deal with the European Union that many saw as the ticket for finally pulling the country’s largely agricultural economy out of its post-Soviet slump. But so far, how fast that deal can help transform Georgian agriculture is open to doubt.
That corporate sponsorship and international sporting events go hand-in-hand is nothing new. But the extent to which many sponsors of the June 12-28 European Games have connections to the host nation, Azerbaijan, and specifically to friends and relatives of President Ilham Aliyev, is noteworthy.
Georgia has paid a high price for its ambition to join NATO.
On June 16, the South Caucasus country will bury the 30th soldier killed in support of the Euro-Atlantic alliance's missions in Afghanistan. Corporal Ramaz Davitaia died on June 8 of grievous wounds suffered in Helmand Province in June 2012.
The European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution on June 10 that assailed Russian aggression in Ukraine and appealed for European Union unity in the face of Kremlin policies aimed at dividing the continent.
They knew it would not be a milestone event. But many in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine nonetheless are finding it difficult to accept the results of the May 21-22 European Union gathering in Riga, Latvia.
RIGA -- Unlike the previous EU Eastern Partnership summit in 2013, which triggered the Ukraine crisis after the country's ex-president scuttled a deal on closer ties with Brussels, the summit that wrapped up May 22 is unlikely to send such shock waves across the continent.
Russian President Vladimir Putin got the world's attention on May 10 when, during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he unapologetically defended the infamous 1939 nonaggression pact between Adolf Hitler's Germany and Josef Stalin's Soviet Union.